Random Shots From The Players

By Rich LernerMarch 20, 2002, 5:00 pm
First, can we please dispense with any and all talk regarding The Players as the fifth major? Its not a major, if only because theres no official designation. But it is one of the five most important stroke play championships every single year.
 
No ones ever won back-to-back titles here. Of course, the moment someone utters the phrase'no ones ever'Tiger becomes the first ever, as in first to ever win four professional majors in succession or first to win three different events three straight years.
 
Ernie Els agreed that it was a valid point when it was suggested that maybe his trip to Dubai might hurt his chances to win here. I hit the wall last Saturday, he said. Even in Fridays 67, I began to lose concentration. But sleeping at home in Orlando helped, and I took it easy the last three days. So I feel really good now. Ernie added that he actually felt he had to prove something to himself at Dubai because hed been so wobbly in the final round at Doral. For the record, it was a 15 hour trip going over to Dubai, and 17 coming back.
 
Matt Gogels returning to action after a three week layoff, while his good friend, Carl Paulson, is just trying to jumpstart a trying season. Paulson contracted viral meningitis in January and spent four frightening days in the hospital. Thankfully, he recovered, but then his Dad underwent triple bypass surgery so Carl spent two weeks in Virginia Beach helping out his family.
 
David Toms enters the week slightly under the radar screen. I just havent put four rounds together yet, he said. But my game feels good.
 
Hal Suttons the oldest champ at The Players. He won in 2000 at age 41. He agreed that with modern equipment and the manner in which todays youngsters attack the game, its getting tougher for the over 40 set to compete on a regular basis. But he added that the slaughter factors not as big here at this course where you have to hit straight from point A to point B. The roster of past champs bears that out, as some, like Tiger and Freddy, have been bombers, while others, like Justin, Lee Janzen and Hal, have been medium length hitters who rely more on accuracy.
 
Tiger plays so well in the big tournaments on the tough courses because he mauls the par fives and then grinds out tough par after tough par. From his winning total of 14 under at The Players a year ago, 11 came on the five pars. Said Toms, A lot of great players Ive played with arent there mentally on every single shot like Tiger. Sutton added, Tigers not the dominant player he is because hes powerful. Hes dominant because of his mental toughness and his course management, and hes powerful on top of that. Tiger also has an ingenious short game that allows him to gamble and recover when he misfires.
 
Mike Sposa offered a list of must-dos on this golf course. You must drive it well. You must be precise with what youre aiming at because a lot of times you wont be going at pins. And you must, absolutely must, avoid shortsiding yourself. Theres no ginchin it here, Sposa said. The best player here wins.
 
Phil Mickelson gets kudos for trying even if he doesnt always win. But for him to say after The Bay Hill debacle that it was always Tigers event to win is off base. If Im not mistaken, Phil had the one shot lead early Sunday on the back side. At that point, it was his tournament to win, dont you agree?

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm